To Teacher Union Or Not To Teacher Union, That Is The QuestionFriday, February 25th, 2011
I’m not very interested in politics any more. I used to be when I was young and believed that most people, even those I disagreed with, were at least idealistic. I believed that politics was as it promotes itself to be, “the art of the possible”.
I’m better now. Politics is most certainly not the art of the possible. Politics in not an art of any kind. It is generally an embarrassing attempt by the selected or powerful few to dictate terms to the vast majority, and about all that politics seems to make possible these days is an unpunished defiling of the law and/or of the constitution by politicians.
I’m even less interested in big business, or business of any kind. I know, I know, “the business of America is business.” Nonsense. Each business only exists to provide a service or product that we hope will improve existence in some way, and to provide jobs and sustenance to as many people as possible, at least on the social and societal level. That’s all a business, regardless of its size, is really good for. The actual business of America is not the support of its businesses, but (should be) the development of a good and useful future, and the earnest support of its citizens.
Politicians and businessmen generally share one distasteful trait – self-interest. Given the condition of the world we live in, I think we’re all going to need to get it together and care for a little bit more than “number one”. We do not live in caves anymore, we live in cities, in a civilization shared with billions. Time to grow up and adjust. Since we are fighting against remarkable levels of self-interest in this regard, I have little hope that politicians or businessmen will get on board, and even less interest in their doings.
I am, however, very interested in our children. I am interested in anything we can do to empower them. I am interested in any approach that will allow each child to locate and pursue his dream, no matter how unique or divergent, so long as his efforts are constructive and pro-civilization.
And so I am morbidly interested in people and forces that work to slow our children down or stop them. I want to know about them. I want them gone.
There have been teachers for as long as there have been Human Beings. Some are time-honored, such as Plato, who opened the first western school, or Confucius, whose ideas about education and life are still studied by hundreds of millions. Many other good teachers have lived lives of quiet service, making their contribution in and their mark on their students, and through their students to uncounted others.
One of my closest friends was a gentleman who taught economics at the university level. He was a very good man, a conscientious teacher and loving family man and friend. As he was approaching his death (cancer, sorry to say), we had a talk. He told me that he feared he’d accomplished nothing. Just as a side bar, he came up with the idea of the portable pension (he was an econ professor), and got it to Congress where it became the law of the land and rescued the pensions of heaven knows how many families. He also ran 11 economics departments for various colleges in Southern California. He even ran for political office. He was a reason I believed in politics when I was young.
I reminded my friend that he had taught thousands of students. He’d taught economics, a useful subject that even has a practical application. One must assume that most of his students went on to have a life, even a family, or the species would soon cease to exist. What he taught those students helped those families survive and prosper, so who could say how many lives he’d touched and helped. My friend seemed strangely surprised at the thought that he’d helped thousands of people. I was surprised that he was surprised.
My friend was a teacher, by profession and by calling. He was also a proud member of the Los Angeles Teachers Union. I would propose to you that he was a teacher first, a father, a husband, a friend, a political force, a religious man…and then, somewhere farther down the list, a union member. His union was far less important to him than the successful education of the students in his care.
He was a uniquely sane man who did not care overly much about income or perks. If they had “enough” to pay bills and see some of the world, he and his wife, also a wonderful teacher, were happy and satisfied. I think they would have both been surprised and perhaps appalled at what is happening today in Wisconsin, but not for the reasons you may suspect.
I learned something from them as a teacher. The students come first. The student’s needs come first. Students’ needs and the successful delivery of an education stand as a priority far above union affiliations or paychecks. Period, end of discussion. You are not a “professional teacher” or a teacher of any sort because you get paid. You are a teacher when every day, your students get brighter, smarter, more capable, more able to understand the world around them and bend it to their wishes and dreams. Pay is a happy secondary result of being a real teacher.
Pay is also an unhappy drag on the nation’s economy when it is delivered to people who see teaching as a profession rather than a calling. Teachers unions are not about the calling of teaching. They only involve themselves in the profession of teaching. These unions engender and protect teacher pay, teacher tenure, teacher security, teacher rights. They defend teachers who abuse students or the system.
Please do not kid yourselves, folks. Teachers unions in no way promote education. They exist solely to support the self-interested needs and wants of teachers, and of the unions themselves. Now, I’m not even implying that teachers do not deserve to make a living and be supported – when they actually do what a teacher is supposed to do, as described above. How many teachers in the unions actually get the desired result? I’m afraid the percentages would be quite low. Teachers, thanks to their unions, seem to have plenty of time to take three month holidays, sabbaticals, and apparently to march out of the schools to protest, as we are seeing in states like Wisconsin today.
Yes, they have lots of free time. There is a video on YouTube posted this morning that shows teachers in Wisconsin last night, in a room where government business supposedly takes place. There are a lot of teachers there, and they repeatedly strike their arms through the air and shout in a self-involved mantra the word “shame”.
Shame. Yes, shame. Shame on these “professional teachers”. Are they marching and shouting to demand better service and results for their students? No, they are not, and never have. Are they demanding better tools or better results from themselves? Of course not. Teachers may mumble or complain quietly about poor results, but they don’t want too much attention from YOU brought to these things, so they would certainly never march and shout about them.
The teachers in Wisconsin are marching and shouting and gesturing to protect their union, their right to collective bargaining, their sweet, well-paid existence in which they are paid paid paid without any regard to results, good or bad. Take a look:
To teachers union or not to teachers union? If teachers unions existed even in part to protect students and to guarantee teacher performance, than I’d vote teacher unions, yea! They do not, however. And as students have no union, children remain unrepresented in the government/union brouhaha.
Unions were born to protect workers’ rights. I believe in that idea. Workers should be protected and paid for their work. But teachers should not be coddled, paid exorbitant salaries and perks – and then FAIL, and in many cities, in over half of their assignments. In any other profession it’s understood that repeated failure means unemployment. Other unions grasp this idea fairly readily. Not teachers unions, however. They only understand membership dues and how to protect them with marching feet, crying voices and impassioned, gesticulating arms.
Children first. Students first.
Unions have jacked up the price of education to astronomical levels in the United States. They have protected abusive teachers. They demand that poorly performing teachers remain on the job, damaging students and paying dues. Unions are both politics and big business as usual. And this is what the teachers of Wisconsin are protesting in favor of?
I vote teacher unions “nay” when they hurt children. Let’s call the roll.
As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.
But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.
In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Connect The Thoughts (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.
CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)
Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.
Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.
Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.
Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.
Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.
For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.
We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!